Oct. 3, 1946 - July 18, 2013
Resident of Pinole
Chris passed away at the age of 66 on Thursday, July 18, 2013, at his home with his beloved wife and two daughters by his side after a long, courageous battle with cancer.
He was born in Salem, Oregon, on October 3, 1946, to John and Ellie Gunnell, and is survived by two brothers, Jeff and Mark Gunnell. Chris graduated from Berkeley High School in 1964. He attended Biola University for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1966. He served our country in the Vietnam War until 1969 as a Sergeant and Communications Center Specialist and was honorably discharged in 1972. Following his military service, he worked 37 years for the railroad as a Switchman Operator, beginning with Santa Fe and retiring from Union Pacific in 2006.
Chris married Judy Kasari on October 20, 1972. Together they shared almost 41 years as husband and wife and raised two daughters. Through marriage he gained his sons-in-law and seven grandchildren. He is survived by his loving wife Judy; daughters Jamie (Brad) Cooper, of Rocklin, and Randi (Tom) Bittner, of Fairfield; and grandchildren, Addison, Brooke, Brady and Cole Cooper, Avery Costa, Bradley and Sidney Bittner.
He will be remembered as a devoted husband, father, papa, brother, son, uncle, cousin, neighbor and friend who was kind, hard-working and always had a smile on his face. He fought his 16-year illness with unrivaled strength and courage until the very end. He was a proud "Papa" who loved his family deeply and lived for his wife, children and grandchildren. His love of trains, gardening and warm sunny beaches lives on in those dearest to him. He leaves behind a legacy rich in family tradition and love. He will be missed dearly.
A celebration of life will be held on Friday, August 2nd at 11:00am at Benicia Veteran's Memorial Hall, 1150 First St, Benicia, CA 94510. Those who desire may donate in memory of Chris to Kaiser Oakland Hospice, 3701 Broadway, Ste 300, Oakland, CA 94611.
Published in Contra Costa Times on July 28, 2013